Acting Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Irfaan Ali said that the imminent activation of the Small Business Bureau and the attendant disbursement to the small business sector of funds from Guyana REDD+ Trust Fund created to support projects identified under the Government of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) should not be perceived as an indication that “easy money” will now be available.
“We are aware that sometimes support programmes can be perceived as opportunities to secure easy money. That is not the case. This initiative will be managed in a manner that ensures that it is sustainable, viable and profitable,” Ali said.
He told Stabroek Business that the long-awaited launch of the bureau that will herald the formal launch of the services to be provided under the programme is now imminent.
Speaking with this newspaper shortly after he had addressed a seminar staged jointly by the ministry and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Ally said that part of the role of the bureau will be to seek to bring businesses together in order to enable them to benefit from working in clusters. “There are some distinct advantages to be derived from bringing businesses together at the community level and at various other levels and we will be seeking to exploit those advantages,” Ali said.The formal launch of the Small Business Council will bring to fruition the provisions of the Small Business Act promulgated in 2004 under the Jagdeo administration. The act provides for a Small Business Council charged with reviewing draft small business legislation proposed by government and preparing an annual report on small businesses in Guyana. The Small Business Bureau, which is to function as the secretariat of the council, is charged with coordinating and monitoring programmes for small business development.
Following the passage of the legislation a Small Business Council had been created. However, Ali said, a new council was subsequently set up and the work of putting the machinery in motion for the delivery of services to the small business community is expected to begin immediately after the conclusion of the budget debate.
Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh last week affixed his signature to an agreement between the Government of Guyana and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that will facilitate the disbursement of US$5 million, for the launch of support programmes for the small business sector to be administered by the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce through the Small Business Bureau. Approved by the IDB’s Board in February this year the funds are part of the Guyana REDD+ Trust Fund created to support projects identified under the LCDS.
According to Ali, there was need for a change in the prevailing small business culture to allow for growth and expansion of dormant enterprises. “Some small businesses simply never expand beyond the family level. Those enterprises want to limit themselves to family control,” Ali said, adding that in a number of instances profits from such enterprises are exported rather than reinvested in their growth and development.